Back to School

I had already held him close and whispered in his ear all the things I wanted to say before he left to go back to his senior year at SEU, but that was last night and I just needed one last look before leaving for work. I opened the door to the guest room and watched him sleep for a minute the man-child with a full beard sound asleep dreaming I think of the curly- haired girl he would be returning to in just a few hours. It happens so fast this parenting thing, the days feel like eons when they are little especially when they are sick but the years speed by lightening quick. I closed the door in the early morning dark and left for work thinking back about the week.

The Sunday before Taylor had brought the message in my Father’s church, I had coordinated what I thought would be a warm family moment, something sentimental and meaningful because I know Taylor is a good communicator but I didn’t realize that my son would bring the Manna for the day and anoint that place of fellowship with God’s merciful grace. He looked at the questions Moses asked God when asked to deliver the Hebrew children from Egypt. It was powerful, personal and poignant. Tim and I sat side by side tears streaming down our faces holding hands, listening to our son declare the truth of God’s word to our souls. This child who had walked through all the dark ugly of these last 22 months had arrived to the other side… faith in tact and person still whole. IT was not an easy journey and it did take its toll on him…there were questions… and there was doubt but the Christ in him had prevailed and God was glorified. Just a full circle moment, a testament to choices Tim and I have made as parents over and over again while trying to raise sons to know God and be fully aware that God isn’t always best represented by His people But that doesn’t make Him any less God.

We practiced two of the many foundational rituals and traditions that are a part of our family with him this week. The first… one of my favorites shopping for back to school clothes and supplies, when I started this annual trip I was really just trying to get a whole shopping day with my boys, I never dreamed it would become such a touch point in the school year. They wore school uniforms most of their lives so we really just shopped for cool shoes, undergarments and school supplies We started the day going to the mall and getting the essentials at Mervyn’s and of course the coolest shoes possible and then lunch in the food court, Sabarro’s for those huge slices of pizza. One year we bought Eddie Bauer back packs and they lasted forever! Then off to Target and Wal-Mart for school supplies. All along the way we would talk and laugh and this ritual helped them get ready for school. When they were teenagers there was a lot of messing with Mom…it was a chore and it was joy all at the same time. I loved every minute of it even though I was exhausted by the end of the day. Then we picked something up for dinner (because of course I wasn’t cooking after all of that) and then home to show Dad all of our loot. Things were modeled, supplies laid out for Dad to see and of course Tim dutifully responded appropriately to everything.
Then off to bedrooms so they could organize all their stuff for school.
And this week was the last time I will ever do that as a Mom.

Taylor needed some “grown-up” slacks for interviews and other activities for the coming senior year there will be many “grown-up” moments in this next year. I didn’t care that my resources were pretty limited I wasn’t going to miss this moment or let him go without these things. So off to the Men’s section in Macy’s and their incredible clearance sales! Thank-you Lord. We found beautiful slacks for 19 bucks and dress shoes for 35 and a great shirt for 19.
And then there was the moment…he took a picture of everything to attain the curly-haired girl’s approval. I have already experienced this moment with Mychal and I knew it was coming…the moment THE girl’s opinion outweighs mine. I have been the most important woman in their lives and then it happens…I am now #2. It is as it should be and it is what I want for him, for them both. To know love and companionship like Tim and I have. But it still stings just a bit the first time it happens.

We laugh, we talk about the interview he has when he gets back to school, the car he will buy that he has saved for and THE curly-haired girl. And I am breathing in every moment of this last precious school ritual, I will always be his Mother but not in this way for much longer. I have run my race; I am looking at my son, the Man and thanking the Lord for all the nudges in the night, for all the moments the Holy Spirit spoke to me about my actions or what was in my heart. All the moments the Holy Spirit led me and guided me as I parented my sons. His constant help that never failed no matter how challenging the parenting task.
Shopping accomplished we go to meet Dad for Dinner and of course to show off the loot.

The second foundational tradition will happen later in the morning after I have arrived at work. Tim and Taylor will got to Denny’s to have breakfast. Breakfast with Dad has become an important piece in the parenting journey; this is where Tim has developed relationship with our sons in the most important ways. He talked to them about sex like this, inviting them to celibacy until marriage and giving them covenant rings to mark the commitment, Issues of character or behavior were sometimes ironed out, it is at breakfast that he taught them about important life milestones, where he affirmed their choices or character. Every major life transition has had a Breakfast with Dad attached to it.
Tim has taken the day off to do this and then take Taylor to the airport, that’s how important this kind of connection is in our family.
I love when the boys come home from these times with Tim…there is always a “settledness” in them, a shoulders-squared -back confidence to them and I can see they feel accepted and acknowledged first as a boy and now as a Man. Tim always sits with me and share s everything and we cry and laugh together. We celebrate who this child is and who he is becoming.
Intentional Parenting is powerful and it matters!

In the following days I see pictures of Taylor with his girl, I get the text that he got the job, he is looking at different used cars to see which one is best and I reminded of how fleeting this life is and how important it is to be fully present in pivotal moments of a child’s life, to take the mundane tasks and turn them into events and traditions, to celebrate the transitions to the next stage and not mourn them. Life is an adventure…sometimes an adventure is scary and sometimes it a thrill but like very new school year there are things to be learned and life to be lived.


Taylor at camp this summer.